Matilda Collins, currently in Year 6, won the British Mountaineering Council’s Youth Climbing finals, held in Ratho, just outside Edinburgh last weekend.
There were 32 competitors, in her 10-11 year old’s category, who had qualified from 11 regions around the UK.
The competition involved a mixture of three bouldering problems (low level, technical and strength climbs up an artificial boulder route with crash mats to break your fall if you come off) and three technical route climbs up to 30m high, with a harness and ropes for safety. In both disciplines points are awarded for the number of holds you manage to reach and then move off before eventually either reaching the top or falling off!
Matilda started climbing about five years ago at Craggy Island in Guildford, where she was spotted by Mark Croxall (a previous bouldering World Cup winner). She was invited to join the Craggy Island youth climbing team which was just being formed. This introduced her to the world of competitive climbing and bouldering at many of the major climbing centres around the South of England. Matilda trains three times a week, on the climbing wall in Guildford and the bouldering wall at Cranleigh School, along with strengthening work at home on her pull-up bar and finger board.
Matilda was selected to represent Cranleigh School last term in a bouldering competition against Eton. Although the youngest by four years, and the only girl in the team, she managed to come first. Last year Matilda competed for the first time at the Youth Colour Climbing Competition at Imst in Austria. Although there is a festival atmosphere about this two day event, it is held at the same venue as the European youth cup and is seen as an early taster for those who aspire to go on to compete for their National teams. We wish Matilda lots of luck when she returns there next month and will be climbing against approx. 50 climbers from all over Europe, trying to improve on last year’s 7th position.
Report and pictures contributed by Cranleigh Prep School.